Reach friends and fans, hold them close

John Battelle recently pointed out how his search blog has a newsfeed subscriber base of about 400,000 and that the number has doubled in the space of a year. However, his reach, according to newsfeed system Feedburner, is a mere 664 or so. That, he concedes is not a very good hit rate. Just 0.15% of his subscribers are viewing and clicking his updates.

I took a look at the equivalent metrics for Sciencebase and Sciencetext. SB has about 4000 RSS subscribers although that figure is often reported at nearer 5000, but let’s assume it’s just 4000. The reach, Feedburner tells me, is more than 500. That’s the same order of magnitude click/read numbers as Battelle sees. As a percentage it’s far higher. More than 10%. One in ten subscribers actually view or click on an update in the newsfeed. The percentage for Sciencetext, which has fewer RSS subscribers still, is about 10% also.

I suspect that there are simply a lot of people who no longer the newsfeed either because they moved on or because they are flooded with other feeds. I also suspect that a fair number of “subscribers” are actually bots of one kind or another, scraping content and creating splogs and such. Of course, there are also the legitimate syndication sites that use RSS properly.

I think, however, that the take home message is that the metrics do not matter and that every blogger should write to please too people. Primarily, one should write a blog to please oneself. If there’s a reader out there hanging on your every word, then they are precious and you should treat them as such. Whether you refer to your reader as a follower, a fan or a friend. Hold them close treat them well and they will keep reading and making your blogging time worth it. After all, it seems that the other 90% are not even going to see the post…

Author: David Bradley

Freelance science journalist, author of Deceived Wisdom. Photographer and musician.